TDEE so low I want to cry & it’s not getting easier

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TDEE so low I want to cry & it’s not getting easier

This topic contains 17 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  FiftyandFabulous 5 years ago.

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  • Before starting 5:2 I was able to stick to around 1800 calories a day (actually by counting around 35g carbs/day on Atkins). Lost 4kg over 3 months, but thought this would be easier than constantly counting carbs.

    Now on my 4th week of 5:2. The first day I was exhilarated and thought, this isn’t bad. But starving the next day and ate huge amounts, more than 2000 cal. My TDEE is 1460 (!)

    I keep reading how it’s supposed to get easier and your appetite “should” diminish. But every fast day gets harder. So hungry on fast days my stomach cramps and wakes me up in the night. Absolutely ravenous and feeling unwell the next day. I’ve lost one kg, so it is coming off slowly, but it’s so bloody difficult & feels like I’m giving myself an eating disorder.

    Am I doing something wrong? Properly sticking to 500 cals on fast days, drinking gallons of water. I tried 3 small meals first. Then not having anything but coffee, tea and water until midday. “Big” meal at evening. Salty broth.

    Hi Catty My TDEE is the same as yours.
    I find eating processed sugar in paticular and gluten or drinking alcohol really makes me want to overeat on non-Fast days Have you tried cutting down or taking them out of your diet for a while and going with low carb, proteins and loads of vegetables.
    I also have a nourishing hot drink at night on fast days if necessary to prevent me waking up. I like coconut milk and cocoa powder this really helps me

    Also I believe you should only eat 25% of your TDEE on Fast days not 500 cals That sounds too much with your TDEE
    Do you take any medications or have any medical conditions which are hampering your progress and increasing your cravings Do you exercise ?? Have you considered this points.
    Hope you solve your issues I am sure if you persist things will get better Good Luck

    Hi, My TDEE is 1400 but I still use 500 calories for fast days even though it’s not 25% of my TDEE – Michael Moseley has said in a TV interview that this is OK to do – in fact he’s now saying you can eat up to 700-800 calories on fast days if you find the lower limit too difficult. I’m losing weight using 500 cals so I’ll be sticking to this until I get to goal.

    I allocate some of my calories to low fat milk on FDs so that I cane have hot drinks (usually cups of tea), I find these help me get though times when I feel hungry. On cold days, cups of broth can also be useful. I have tried doing more fast days in a week, but this tends to trigger a binge response for me on the next NFD. After experimenting, I have found the right balance for me is 2 NFD between FDs, which means that across a month I get 2 extra FDs than if I had just done 5:2 every week which boost weight loss a little.

    I find it can be a real challenge to stick to 1400 calories (5880kj) on the NFDs, but the following things help me:
    – I use an eating window as I have a tendency to binge so this restriction helps. I never feel hungry at the beginning of the day, but my appetite builds as the day goes on, so I’ve applied an eating window that fits that – I eat all my calories between noon and 8pm. By not having to cover breakfast I have more calories for when I really need them.
    – I eat wholefoods rather than processed foods, and try to avoid things with a lot of sugar, salt or fat as they stimulate my appetite. I eat carbohydrates but only wholegrains (eg sourdough rye rather than white bread, quinoa or freekah rather than pasta or rice). I also eat a lot of legumes which provide both protein and carbs but I find them really filling. These types of carbs don’t stimulate my appetite. However I know others who have needed to follow a low carb diet while on 5:2 to lose weight – if you have insulin resistance then it can be difficult to lose weight while freely eating carbohydrates. I think the35gram limit that you previously followed is particularly low and if you want some level of restriction you might try a more moderate level of around 80g, which is where many of the VLCDs (very low calorie diets – eg meal replacement shakes) target themselves.
    – Fresh veg & fruit is a substantial part of my diet, I can’t get my intake down to 1400 calories and still have enough volume to eat otherwise. I usually restrict my afternoon snacks to fresh fruit, and if I want dessert after dinner it is also usually fruit, sometimes with yoghurt. It did take a while to stop craving treat foods at these times but over time I’ve adapted to the fruit option.
    – Although the current fashion is for a high fat diet I choose to eat a low fat diet as the volume of food I can have on a high fat diet is just too small for me so I eat modest amounts of the healthier fats. (I also have no gall bladder so have digestion issues if a meal has a high fat content.) Gram for gram, fats contain twice the calories of carbohydrate or protein, so it’s hard to structure a high fat diet unless you also have a high TDEE.
    – I try to plan things that take me out of the house (I’m retired) for part of the day on fast days so that I have other things than food to think about.

    I hope you find an eating pattern that helps. If binge eating is an issue for you it may be worth reading through the discussion on the following forum:

    Hi Catty,

    my TDEE is laughable – 1517cals. My BMR is 1320 – I have so little to work with it makes me angry and depressed at the same time. SO tired of having to struggle with weight, my whole life.

    I was doing ok for the past 5 weeks, fasting 3 days instead of 2, as I also have an underactive thyroid. Was getting used to toughing it out on fast days…but today, I crumbled for the first time. It wasn’t in my head..I was so hungry my whole stomach was painful and cramping, and I felt so sick. Eventually, at 6pm I was so distressed and upset I had some rice, but then for the rest of the night, no matter what I ate, my stomach was still like I hadn’t eaten anything. I waited to see whether it was in my head, but, no, it was this intense physical ache. So upsetting.

    I was supposed to fast today as well (normally Mon/Wed/Thu), but it’s 4am, and I had to get up and have something to eat. I think I will ‘recover’ today, and see if I can do at least the second fast day on the weekend.

    Anyone who gets fooled by thinking this way of eating is easy will quickly realise this is as tough as a traditional diet. Sorry for the rant – a really long-winded way of saying I FEEL YOUR PAIN! Best of luck! 😊

    Have a very low rate myself I know this is hard and tiring. I am trusting maintaining is easier.

    It should be!

    It’s taken 3 years for me to get half way so far, however this is the only thing that has worked so I keep on keeping on!

    It isn’t fair and my body is what it is, so I am going to keep going…..

    Big hugs

    It will be ok

    @ljoyce I follow the same strategy. My TDEE is 1487 so I have added HIIT twice a day using metabolic driver principles. I eat veg mainly, exclude fruit apart from berries. Almost no carbs at all other than milk and the odd pizza as a treat once a month.

    No processed food at all, only ingredients. I am almost vegetarian but have eggs and a little fish, prawns and venison in season. No pasta, bread, flour (other than buckwheat) potatoes etc. I use quinoa and black rice (not white as that sends my hunger off the charts).

    I also use fibre tablets to fill my tummy.

    @catty. Im confused. You say that you were able to lose weight eating 1800 cal per day. You’ve now swapped over to 5:2 and after initially finding it easy its now very hard. You say your TDEE is 1460? If that’s correct I cant see how you were losing weight when you were eating 1800 cal per day?

    Really depends what youre eating. Processed foods will make the task hard. Avoid grain based foods like bread, pasta, pizza, biscuits, cakes etc. Avoid sugar at all costs. Eat lots of cruciferous veggies, beans, legumes etc. Its hard to over eat those foods. Good luck.

    @bigbooty I can lose weight on a very low carb diet without counting calories. I guess that is the situation with @catty.

    If I am eating simple carbs then I struggle to lose weight even if I count calories.

    My TDEE is kind of at the other end of the scale, around 3200. But after eating too many simple carbs on my non-fasting days I found the scales were going in the wrong direction, even with fasting 2 or 3 days per week. I’ve switched back to low-carb on my non-fasting days a week ago and everything is easier: the fasting days are easier to get through, the weight loss is easier, and the cravings are gone.

    Something I had to face with my low TDEE is that I had to come to terms with it and find a way to work with it rather than railing against it. I absolutely felt extremely hard done by in the beginning, but I had to move past that an face up to my reality it I wanted to lose the excess weight.

    I’ve now lost enough weight to resolve all of the weight related health issues that I had, so I’ve moved to maintenance mode now. I’m still doing 2 FDs per week. I think this is where 5:2 really can help, as by continuing to do 2 FDs, I can eat more than my TDEE on the other days.

    I also want to give some encouragement to those of you still trying to lose weight with a low TDEE. There are several people on one of the other forum threads that I’ve been talking to since the start of my own 5:2 journey – they have lost their excess weight and been maintaining for either months or years with the aid of 5:2. While I was losing weight I found this very reassuring as I knew it was possible to lose weight even with a low TDEE. It will be slow, as your calorie deficit is much smaller than it is for those with a large TDEE. If you want something faster you could always try the blood sugar diet – however that is 8 weeks at 800cal every day – it sounds a lot more daunting to me than 500 calories twice a week does, but for some people the discipline and faster weight loss may be preferable.

    Good luck with your weight loss journeys.

    @bigbill. My problem is that if your TDEE is truly 1460 then how is it possible to eat 1800 cal and lose weight. Something doesn’t add up is my point. I don’t count calories either, I just choose to get most of my carbs from veggies. If the majority of your food intake is whole unprocessed foods then it becomes relatively easy to lose or maintain. Ive been in maintenance since March 2016. I keep anything processed to an absolute minimum.

    @bigbooty, I’ve found you to be one of the most thoughtful and knowledgeable contributors I’ve encountered on the subject of diet and weight control. I’ve no desire to pretend that I know more than you do.

    My own experience with ketogenic diets is that it is very difficult to gain weight by eating excess calories. I’ve read that this is due to the lack of insulin in one’s system, and that explanation makes sense to me.

    At times when I’ve been low-carbing I’ve made some awesome tasting food. Low carb cheesecake is one. Bacon cheeseburger quiche is another. And I’ve been known to cook up a batch that should have been enough for 8 meals, then eat the lot over a couple of hours – effectively consuming my whole TDEE and then some at one meal. It wasn’t a daily occurrence but it did happen occasionally. This appeared to have no impact on my weight loss and I consistently lost 3 or 4 kilos per month over about 6 months. I averaged a couple of carb-rich meals per week, otherwise I would have lost more weight more quickly. I never needed to count calories or try to limit how much I ate. If something tasted good and I wanted a 2nd or 3rd helping, I went for it.

    Here is an interesting experiment and related comments:

    One of the things to point out here is that the subject was not eating a ketogenic diet. He was eating 580 calories worth of carbohydrates per day. @catty was talking about eating less than a quarter of that, 35g of carbs or 140 calories. Some people need to go as low as 40 calories (10g) worth of net carbohydrates per day to stay in ketosis, others can stay in ketosis while consuming a little more.

    Yes I know that this is controversial and that a lot of nutritionists still claim that all calories are equal regardless of which way-of-eating you follow.

    @big bill. Im sure there are lots of people that know more than me.I fully agree that not all calories are the same. Maybe I should reword what I said. I suspect that error comes about from the very simplified TDEE concept. Eat 1800 cal and your TDEE is 1460, you should gain weight using the simple calories in calories out model. I am convinced that your TDEE however varies greatly based on your diet, whether it is cold or hot, stress etc. So using a simple on line calculator is probably asking for trouble. When I am fasting I know I run colder hence my TDEE will have dropped for that day. Ive measured various parts of my body with an IR thermometer. Break my fast and the temps go up again. So its not a permanent thing but it does make losing weight harder. To me this makes sense as your body is in conservation mode, as it should be. Eat crappy processed carbs, insulin spikes, you cant access stored fats, your body runs slow/cold to conserve what little energy it can access. Hence me posing a question in another post about “thyroid” problems. Are you overweight because you have a thyroid problem or do you have a thyroid problem because your overweight. Subtle difference.

    Keep well.

    One thing to keep in mind is that TDEE and even calories aren’t exact numbers. They come from big national or international databases and are best guess average approximations. But they’re the best we have to work with. Everyone here has given you good advice. Some have already reached their goals.

    I’ve only been following this plan for 10 weeks so far. My TDEE is 1400 calories. I sit behind a desk a good part of the day. I would say I’m sedentary as far as activity levels. (I need to do better on that.) I’m 68. My thyroid levels are checked yearly and are normal. I Fast 2 days per week at 500 calories and record them meticulously. The other 5 days I don’t count calories at all. I eat what I want, eat a lot of whole fruit and usually a lot of vegetables. I eat a fair amount of seafood, chicken and turkey. I avoid refined sugar because it makes me feel hungry half an hour after eating it. I also try to eat mostly whole foods and avoid processed. I don’t go overboard on eating on NFD’s, but I don’t go hungry either.

    I’ve lost 15 pounds, 6.8 kg, in 10 weeks, averaging 1.5 pounds per week or .7 kg. That’s not as fast as some more drastic diets, and I do hit plateaus. But it’s dependable and sustainable. I plan to make this a way of life even after I reach my goal. Many of my friends on this forum are on maintenance and have been for a long time. It works for them. I have confidence that my success will continue. It’s easy to follow, and for me, that’s the bottom line.

    It’s been my experience and my husband’s as well that if we eat simple carbs (potatoes, bread, cereal, sweets, etc.) on our non-fast days, we are hungrier and get cravings for more. The more we ate that stuff, the more we wanted it. Now we don’t eat it and cravings have mostly disappeared. Fast days are MUCH easier too. Try sticking with complex carbs like veg & fruit. It’s healthier too.

    My TDEE = 1450 calories. On Fast Days, I consume around 600 calories. WHAT YOU EAT matters on all days. If your Fasting calories are not protein and veg/fruit then you might well be hungry.
    Same goes for Slow Days : I’ve found that on Slow Days, I now have very little interest in bread, pasta, potatoes or other starchy stuff. All they do is put on the pounds.

    Thank you to everyone who replied. It’s been nearly a year since I originally posted, and I was so distraught that I gave up. Also, I was actually crying when I posted and felt so embarrassed that I had made a fool of myself online that I haven’t been back until today.

    So, just to clarify for those of you kind enough to respond: here’s what was happening back then. On non FDs, I was so hungry that there wasn’t a snowball’s chance on a hot stove that I could stick with just 1460 calories. I was wolfing down 2000+ and feeling awful. I was *ravenous* and every fast day made it worse. I believe it was because I bought into the idea that “you can eat anything on a non FD”, which patently isn’t true. At least it isn’t for me.

    I’ve restarted Atkins/keto and find that I’m comfortable at 35-40g of carbs a day and a calorie count of 1580. I’ve lost a couple of kg in the last 2 weeks. I plan to retry 5:2 *and* continue with the current diet on non FDs — which agrees with a lot of the advice given above (low carb/vegetables/no sugar).

    Thanks again, it was really encouraging to see such helpful replies on this old thread.

    Good luck with your new plan, Catty. Let us know how that works for you.

    It doesn’t sound like you’re vibing with 5:2. If eating 1400-1800 calories a day would work better for you then why don’t you simply go back to it? There’s nothing magical about 5:2, do what suits you.

    I just read your follow up post — hooray for you!

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